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Shakes pear e in Germany, 189
will and testament. If yon are moved to pay any part of your debt to the
past by benefactions to the cause of education, or by pecuniary aid to
struggling genius and worth, do not do it by a last will and testament. The
act is then shorn of half its grace and worth, for you were obliged to let
go your hold on your money any way. You cannot take your gold with
you when you pass beyond the gate. If you could, it might melt. You
clung to it as long as you could, and death alone could relax your grasp.
There is no great merit in that. Besides, the disposition by will gives op-
portunity for misconstruction of your wishes. You have despised lawyers
and grammar, and have drawn your own will. You have not used apt
phrases in which to clothe your wishes. And so, litigating heirs and sharp
lawyers hold a coroner's inquest on your estate, and defaulting trustees
dispose of the remains. Don't leave great wealth to your children. Nine
times out of ten it is a curse to them. Give them rather the legacy of a
thorough education, of which no adversity can deprive them, and of a good
name which is above all riches. Be your own executor now while you have
health and wealth, and the mind is clear and strong. Execute yourself
some grand design for the advancement of your race, your city, your coun-
try. Thence will come the double satisfaction of benefit worthily bestow-
ed and of witnessing the growth and enjoying the fruit of the good tree
of your own planting. So shall you build for yourself a habitation in the
love and esteem of your fellow men, a monument more enduring than
marble; and attain to the immortality of fame that waits on noble deeds. 7 '
Shakespeare in Germany,*
By Karl G. Rendtorff.
At this time when all English speaking nations are striving to honor
the memory of one of England's most illustrious sons the Germans, too,
are testifying to the love with which they regard him and are gratefully
acknowledging the debt they owe to his genius. Everywhere in Germany
learned and literary societies are arranging Shakespeare celebrations, the
German theatres are vying with one another in producing one or the other
of Shakespeare's master plays or even whole cycles of them. In fact, the
whole German nation is celebrating this day as though it were the centen-
ary of one of its most beloved and most honored sons.
And there is nothing strange or artificial about this. It is the genuine
expression of national gratitude; it is giving honor where honor is due.
To the mass of the German people Shakespeare is not a foreign idol to be
Read before the Stanford Philological Association, April 20, 1916.
190 Monatsjiefte fur deatsche Sprache u?id Padagogilc.
worshipped with awe from the distance. For an appreciation of Shake-
speare is not the privilege of the comparatively few who read him in the
original. Lack of linguistic training does not exclude the German to
come into direct contact with the genius of this English poet since for
generations German scholars and German poets have lent their best efforts
toward producing an adequate translation of Shakespeare's dramas.
So the gate that leads to Shakespeare is thrown wide open to any Ger-
man. He reads him at school as he reads his German classics. No matter
how small the family library may be, it will surely contain one of the many
excellent and wonderfully cheap translations of Shakespeare's dramas. As
likely as not the German boy's first introduction to that world of wonders,
the theatre, will be through a Shakespearean play. In his earliest concep-
tion of life, in his first crude attempt to grasp its meaning, to solve the
mysteries of the human soul, the great English poet is his guide. But the
fact that he is an English poet means very little to him. I am sure that
many a German in whose life Shakespeare has become a force scarcely
realizes his nationality. He claims him as his own, for him he is „der
deutsche Shakespeare", an expression which was coined, I think, as early
as 1775 by one of the first Shakespeare translators, Eschenburg.
This adopting and nationalizing of a foreign poet is a phenomenon
which is without parallel in the literary interrelationship of modern
nations. To the Germans Shakespeare is as one of their own. Goethe is
scarcely known in English speaking countries. He has his admirers and
friends among the best minds in England as well as in America but the
people as such do not know him, he is not yet a real factor in their spiritual
and intellectual life, at least not directly. The average Englishman and
Frenchman is barred from approaching Goethe since no complete transla-
tions of his works exist either in French or English. There is, or at least
there was a Goethe Society in England but it is small and anemic. On
the other hand, Die Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft looks back today
on more years of an unbroken and flourishing existence than any other
society of a similar kind. Goethe's dramas are scarcely ever played in
England or France, statistics prove that the Shakespeare performances in
Germany each year outrun by far the English Shakespeare productions
in all English speaking countries taken together.
Nor is Shakespeare the only foreign poet that has exerted such a
powerful and lasting influence on German life and German thought. Ger-
man culture owes a debt of gratitude to many nations : Italy, France, and
Spain, England and the Germanic countries of the North (I refer here
above all to Ibsen) have influenced in turn the development of German
thought. Our own country has not failed to make its contribution. While
Mark Twain was still alive it was said that more copies of his books — in
the original as well as in translations — were sold in Germany than in the
Shakespeare in Germany. 191
countries of his own language and we know how strongly Emerson has in-
fluenced German thought.
This German faculty of assimilation may partly be explained by Ger-
many's geographical location in the very heart of Europe. From a mili-
tary point of view this location may have its disadvantages, but looked
upon from a higher point of view, it appears to be a blessing. By virtue
of it Germany became the intellectual clearing house of the world where
the nations of the north and the south, of the east and the west exchange
their intellectual goods, each one contributing its share towards universal
progress. As a result of this Germany has produced the standard diction-
aries, works of reference and the like for the whole world. There is no
trade or calling, no branch of science but has its „Zentralblatt" edited in
To this central location of Germany is possibly also due the peculiar
sensibility and receptiveness so characteristic of the Germans as individuals
and as a people. We know that this trait has its great disadvantages, for
it leads the Germans to overvalue everything that is foreign simply because
it is foreign, but it certainly has kept them from intellectual isolation anrl
stagnation. It was Germany at the time of her classical period of litera-
ture that evolved the dream of an international literature and it was in
Germany that the translating of literature was raised to the dignity of
But to return to Shakespeare. His dramas became known in Ger-
many at an early date, the so-called Shakespeare Comedians presenting
some of them in Germany early in the 17th century. But the time was
most inopportune : the Thirty Years' War w r as then raging. The Germans
saved the integrity of their conscience but paid for it with the total de-
vastation of their country. Intellectual depression and stagnation follow-
ed. So depleted was the physical strength of the people, the spirit of the
nation so broken, the national wealth so completely destroyed that for
many generations to come the sole aim of the people was to procure the
bare necessities of life; they had no time, no thought, no means for art or
literature. And, worse still, the Germans of that period lost the contact
with their own past : they forgot that their nation had produced in the
Middle Ages an art rich in imagination, perfect in technique, and national
withal. The ISTibelungenlied, Parzival, W r olfram von Eschenbach's great
epic, the exquisite poems of Walter von der Yogelweide fell into oblivion
as completely as though they had never existed; Diirer was forgotten,
Gothic architecture was looked upon as hideous.
This period of mental depression was also a period of political de-
gradation; for in proportion as the self-respect of the individual and the
self-confidence of the nation was lowered the power of the petty princes
grew, the dark days of absolutism set in. Louis XIV. became the idol of
192 M&natshefte fur deutsche Sprache und Padagogik.
these princes and they fashioned their courts after the court of Versailles.
The nobility were quick to follow their rulers in this worship of French
models and the masses, enfeebled in spirit and will power, followed their
leaders. French modes of living, French fashions, French art and litera-
ture, and even the French language prevailed everywhere in Germany
while all that was purely German was treated with contempt as being com-
monplace and stupid.
As a natural consequence of this distrust in their own nature, the
Germans, when they once more took up creative work in art, shaped it after
French models. And so the art as well as the life of the German people
of that time is characterized by a complete lack of originality and imagi-
nation, and by a shallow conventionality which stifled all spontaneity and
made it impossible for the soul of the German people to find expression
in a national art.
It is true that the German mind of that period needed the refining
influence of French culture, that German art had much to learn from the
severe technique of classical French art but the Germans failed to see that
imitation is never true art and that no two nations can follow exactly the
same ideals in art and remain true to themselves.
The Eomanic ideals of art differ fundamentally from those held by
the Germanic peoples. This difference may be briefly expressed by saying
that the Eomanic nations strive mostly after perfection in form and often
undervalue the content of their art, while the Germanic nations lay stress
mainly on the content and often do this at the expense of form. While
we cannot say that Eomanic art is the product of the intellect, it is always
governed by the intellect, which accounts for its lucidity and perfect tech-
nique, whereas Germanic art springs directly from the emotions and the
imagination, and chafes under any artificial restraint.
This temperamental difference in the nations made it impossible for
French ideals in art to prevail in the end. Slowly but surely the Germanic
character began to assert itself and to find its own mode of expression.
Keller, whom Heyse has called "the Shakespeare of the novel/ 5 has
defined this Germanic ideal of art perhaps better than any one else. He
speaks of it as : „eine Fiille der Wahrheit in Schonheit vorgetragen."
And does not this definition fit exactly the art of Shakespeare? It
was not merely a coincidence that he was rediscovered just at that period,
i. e. at the end of the 18th century, when the Germanic mind reasserted
itself in both England and Germany. Under the influence of Eomanic
ideals he had been misunderstood and almost forgotten, now that the Ger-
mans were liberating themselves from these foreign models and were trying
to evolve an art true to their own nature they found to their joy that in
the works of Shakespeare these longings and ideals had been realized. So
Shakespeare m Germany. 193
they hailed him with exultation as a leader, as the Moses who should bring
them to their Promised Land.
I have dwelt at some length on this intellectual development in Ger-
many because it is only from a knowledge of the conditions of the time
that we can understand the extraordinary enthusiasm with which Shake-
speare was greeted, the zeal with which his works were studied, and the
influence which these works exerted on the leading minds of Germany.
And kind fate had willed it that there was at that very time in Germany
a poet whose genius only needed to be kindled by the sacred flame of true
art : Goethe. His acquaintance with Shakespeare, brought about by Her-
der, came at the critical time of his development, at # the parting of the
ways. It was Shakespeare that taught him to look upon sincerity as the
guiding star in all of his work. He learned from him that true art, the
art that is to leave its impress on men's souls, does not spring from the
head but from the heart, that it is not to be measured by artificial rules
and standards, and that it must draw the quality which makes it immortal
from life itself.
Shakespeare had a similar influence on the writers of the period com-
monly called the Storm and Stress Period. To state fully what they owe
him does not fall within the scope of my paper for it would be an attempt
to reveal Shakespeare's greatness in its totality. Suffice it to say that they
found in him a mind akin to their own. They looked upon him as the
great interpreter of the human soul, as one who understanding all pardons
all ; as one who finds the justification of life not in any specific philosophy
or form of belief but in life itself. For them, and even more so for the
Romanticists who followed a generation later, Shakespeare was the modern
poet, the exponent of that modern philosophy that sees in truth not some-
thing fixed once for all by authority but something that is ever changing,
ever growing. It meant a breaking away from the old faith in absolute
truth to the new faith in relative truth, a conception of life which neces-
sarily bestows on the individual a new dignity and a new responsibility.
While it would be fruitless to try to conjecture whether or not the
Germans of that period would have sooner or later achieved all of this by
their own efforts — one of the profoundest thinkers that Germany has ever
produced, Herder, was then living — the fact remains that Shakespeare was
to them like a revelation.
It is then no exaggeration to say that Shakespeare is the guiding star
of the classical period of German literature. It was Lessing who, in 1759,
first called attention to the genius of the English poet by contrasting him
with the French classic writers, above all, with Voltaire. Herder followed
with his dithyrambic praise of Shakespeare. Goethe soon embodied all he
had received from him in content and form in his youthful drama „Gotz
von Berliehingen". What Wieland's and Eschenburg's translation meant
194- Monatsliefte fur deutsche Sprache und Padagogik.
for literature was accomplished for the stage by Schroder's presentation of
ten Shakespearean dramas. Schlegel's „Vorlesungen iiber Shakespeare"
were epoch making and must be enumerated even now among the most im-
portant contributions German scholarship has added to the stock of our
Shakespeare philology. But the way to the hearts of the German people
was not paved until Schlegel, in 1796, began to publish his famous trans-
lation of Shakespeare's works, an undertaking that was not to be finished
until thirty-seven years later under the supervision of Tieck. Schlegel
here raised the art of the translator to a height unknown till then (only
Luther's translation of the Bible may be called equal to it) though, of
course, he was greatly aided by the fact that the English and German lan-
guages are so closely related. It is to this translation, and to the many
others that have since endeavored to outdo even Schlegel, that Shakespeare
owes his hold on the German mind, that the Germans of all classes know
him and love him as though he were one of their own. And this love and
this influence, I am sure, will never cease as long as idealism and love of
truth have not been swept away in Germany by materialism and cold cynic
I might stop here. But the subject originally assigned to me — for
I did not choose my own subject — called for the discussion of the question :
Will Shakespeare be played in Germany after the war?
I have, I think, answered the question, if, indeed, it needed an answer.
Or should I perhaps undertake to answer it by discussing the question :
Would a victorious England prohibit Shakespeare's plays from being read
or presented in Germany after the war? Would she if she coidd, and
could she if would ? I admit that I have seen all kinds of rash statements
in the papers of the belligerent nations. A prominent Englishman, him-
self a wellknown publisher, recently issued a warning against Grimm's
Fairy Tales on the ground that they were likely to poison the minds of
English children. Similar insane warnings may have appeared in German
papers, though I may truthfully say that I have not seen them. We heard
much of that kind of hate at the outbreak of the war when the different
nations thought that they had to hate each other simply because they were
at war with each other.
The war has driven away some of our fondest dreams. International-
ism, cosmopolitanism, planetary patriotism, where are they? Were they
illusions and not realities to be counted with ? Instead, the war has deep-
ened national feeling everywhere, even in those nations that were not
drawn into its vortex. The war will, I am sure, make for national art and
personally I consider that a step in the right direction for, as I hare
pointed out before, art, like religion, must grow on national soil if it is to
appeal to our emotions, gratify our imaginations, and influence our actions.
But this does not mean that foreign art should be banished. More than
Attitude of the Teacher of German Toward Germany. 195
ever the various nations should attempt to understand the art of other
nations for it is in art that the soul of the foreign nation speaks to them.
Mutual respect rests on mutual understanding. It is in high art and the
understanding of high art that the national boundary lines cease to be
And will the German scholar and thinker give up Shakespeare? We
who have devoted our lives to philology are slow in reading, in reasoning,
and determining. If we genuinely love our science we have formed or ac-
cepted certain standards by which we judge and to which we hold. These
standards are the standards of truth and of truth only. And truth, we
maintain, is beyond biased nationality.
The Attitude of the American Teacher of German Toward
By Paul E. Titsworth, Department of German Language, Alfred University,
Alfred, New York.
A year ago individuals and magazines were vying with one another
in discussing with more or less vituperation who brot on the war. It
is significant that this season of scalding words is noticeably passing and
in its stead has come a period of speculation as to the status of the world
in respect to politics, industry, commerce, religion, and morals when the
great scorching wind of passion has passed. That is to say, big as is the
question of attempting to locate the blame for the war, the civilized world
is beginning to realize what a Herculean task it will be to make the neces-
sary adjustments between nation and nation when the shouting and the
tumult have ceased. It is indeed true as a newspaper writer has lately and
sagely remarked that hot words are least in place when passions are at the
If ever there was a time for calmness and quiet words it is now. This
fact the neutral nations in particular are beginning to perceive and already
they are attempting to prepare themselves for reconstruction to a new
world-order. This is not the same as saying that men are no longer stirred
by what is wrong or by what is heroic. We can not but be wrought up
emotionally by such a stupendous conflict of principles which are of vital
concern to us, but it is folly to encourage in ourselves or others any in-
growing spirit of unchecked rancor. We can not be reasonable with our
emotional feathers always on end. This is particularly true for American
* Part of a paper read at a meeting of the Southwestern Section of the
New York State Modern Language Association.